In the seventies my father had a camera in a leather brown case. Before taking a photo he had to estimate the distance to the object of interest (no autofocus), adjust the opening of the lens to the shutter speed and hope for the best. It must have been really difficult to make none posed, real life (candid) photos in those days. I am sure his old camera is still somewhere. Nowadays, we have autofocus, full automatic cameras. You do not need a digital SLR. Point and shoot cameras can make pretty nice candid photos. We now have the opportunity to move away from those posed photos.
What: Candid photos are those, which are taken sort of on the go. Not overly posed or stages, just a photo from real life.
Why: I like them, because they are often more story telling. Making nice candid photos is now easier than ever. Moreover, digital photography allows you to try as often as you like without spending a fortune on film and prints.
How: To me the trick of good candid shots is to take photos without people being aware that you are taking photos. This can sometimes be difficult because you are a person with a camera. By using a good telephoto lens you can get close to your subject without them being aware that the moment is being captured. Another way to get close to your subjects is to let your subjects get used to a camera. With your own family this is rather easy, just photograph your family so often that they are more likely to notice it that you are not taking photos, than when you are. You’ll see that people act more natural once they forget about the camera. You can also catch your subjects when they are too busy to notice you, when people are playing a game, or interact with other people (i.e. talking, buying, arguing). These are excellent opportunities for good candid photos.
To me a good candid photo is also a cliffhanger, you want to know what happens next. You want to know why people are looking so surprised. You can compare it with when reading a comic book. Every last frame on each page is a cliffhanger. You want to turn the page, to see what happens next.
To my knowledge there is not a real clear “rule” for good candid photos, maybe because every situation is different, and every story is unique in its own way. I am curious about what you think are good candid shots.
I posted some examples below. Good candid photos take a bit of effort, but once you get the swing of it, you will get nice results over and over again.
It is as simple as that.